Mary McConnell Glidden
Mary McConnell was born in Dragston, New Jersey, on July 29, 1827. She was the daughter of Elizabeth Bright and John McConnell. She met her future husband, Josiah Willard Glidden, the younger brother of Joseph, when he was living in Philadelphia taking painting lessons. They met at church, where Mary sang in the choir; the pastor’s wife introduced them.
Joseph and Josiah came west from New York and settled in DeKalb in 1842. Josiah and Mary remained in contact, eventually marrying in 1857 in Chicago and setting up their household on a farm on the western edge of DeKalb. In time, six children entered that household, one dying in infancy.
Mary was an accomplished dressmaker, and was the first to own a sewing machine in DeKalb. Josiah would load up the wagon and deliver Mary and her machine to area homes. While Mary was busy sewing, and absent sometimes as long as a week, her sister-in-law Abbey Glidden would mind the children.
Mary and Josiah, who was a prolific writer, were active members of the DeKalb Literary Society. It was said of Mary that she “possessed a seemingly inexhaustible fund of quaint humor that gave charm to her literary work.”
Josiah died in 1876 after receiving a cut that developed into a fast-acting infection. In a time before the advent of antibiotics, he died from the bacteria within a week. The next year, Mary and her five children ranging in age from 9 to19 moved from the farm into town. She opened a dressmaking shop at the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Lincoln Highway and managed to support her family. Once again her sister-in-law Abbey helped with the children.
By 1900 Mary was living with daughter Bertha and son-in-law Samuel Bradt. She died in 1909 at the age of 81. Mary was eulogized as a woman with an intellect and a graceful self-assurance. After suffering the loss of her husband and later in life two of her adult daughters, Mary was known as one having a brave heart. Love and duty were virtues that guided her entire life.